On Monday, June 26, 2017, Dykema attorneys were present as Michigan’s Medical Marihuana Licensing Board conducted its first public meeting in Lansing, Michigan. This meeting was the first time that members of the public had the opportunity to address the newly-appointed Board, and marijuana industry advocates and participants took full advantage, overflowing the G. Mennen Williams Building’s auditorium.
At the outset of the meeting, Board Chairman and former Michigan House Speaker Rick Johnson made clear that the inaugural meeting would not be a question and answer session, but that the Board would listen to public comment as its members continue to learn about the issues that lie ahead. Members of the public to address the Board included attorneys, dispensary owners, caregivers, patients, and township trustees, who collectively voiced varying concerns about the uncertainty in the medical marihuana field that will continue to exist until the rulemaking process concludes.
From the activist community, some speakers criticized the composition of the Board, questioning both the political make-up (appointees include only Republicans and Independents) and the fact that Board member Don Bailey is a retired Michigan State Police Trooper with a history of drug enforcement work. (Board member David LaMontaine is also a police officer, and a law enforcement background is hardly unheard of on a regulatory board—the Executive Director of Michigan’s Gaming Control Board was a longtime officer with the Macomb County Sheriff’s Office.)
Toward the end of the meeting, Mr. Bailey explained that marijuana obviously involves law enforcement issues, causing some consternation when he offered the observation that the Board may have trouble believing potential licensees who had failed to comply with the current Michigan Medical Marihuana Act would comply with the new law going forward. He also noted that going forward, the Board’s duty is to follow and apply the law, not personal views. Other members of the Board echoed comments demonstrating that they are eager to hear and learn from the public. Chairman Johnson encouraged members in the audience to continue to make their voices heard and to work together with the Board as the process unfolds.
Chairman Johnson concluded by indicating that there would be “at least” one public meeting between June and October of this year. As we have written previously, the timelines in Michigan’s rulemaking process will force the State to promulgate emergency rules to be able to comply with the law’s December 15, 2017 date for accepting licensure applications. Because emergency rules can only extend for one year, we expect the State to begin work on promulgating final rules nearly simultaneously.